Great Lakes: IRIN Update 168, 5/9/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 168, 5/9/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.168 on the Great Lakes (Friday 9 May 1997)

* Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko at a summit in Libreville, Gabon announced yesterday that he would not be seeking re-election in any future election due to ill-health. A possible constitutional mechanism for the transfer of power has emerged from the summit. Its communique urged the High Council of the Republic, Zaire's Transitional Parliament (HCR-PT), to elect its chairman "to enable the regular functioning of institutions and favour an orderly and democratic transition." Observers say Mobutu could then transfer power to the President of the HCR-PT.

The chair of the HCR-PT has been vacant since 1995, and the leading candidate for the position is thought to be Archbishop Monsignor Monsengwo Pasinya, who chaired the Conference Nationale Souverain (CNS) from April - May 1992. He later became President of the over 700-seat HCR-PT which held its first meeting in January 1994 but began to be eased out of the post from July 1994. In early 1995, he was voted out by Mobutist FPC and the opposition Union Sacree. Since then, the position has been vacant. A motion signed by 240 parliamentarians calling for the re-installation of Monsengwo as president of the HCR-PT was submitted on 5 May 1997.

The Libreville summit included the leaders of Gabon, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, the Central African Republic and Chad, as well as Cameroon's foreign minister. Mobutu had still not returned to Kinshasa by mid-afternoon today.

Today, a spokesman for the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) told AFP that the ADFL rejected the Libreville plan. Bizima Karah said "the transition will be undertaken by the Alliance and nobody but the Alliance." The Alliance claims to have progressed west of Kenge on the road to Kinshasa, after an unusually bitter battle for the town. An ADFL spokesman today alleged that Angolan UNITA forces and Rwandans had fought with the FAZ, while AFP quoted sources saying fighting had concentrated around Bukanza-Longo, where the road to Kinshasa crosses the Lonzo river.

* South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki is on a whistle-stop diplomacy mission which so far has included Luanda, Dar es Salaam, Kigali and Lubumbashi. Trips to Kinshasa, Brazzaville and Libreville are also planned as part of an attempt to close the gap between the demands of ADFL leader Laurent Kabila and Mobutu to achieve a peaceful transition. Another round of talks aboard the South African navy ship SAS Outeniqua are tentatively set for Wednesday next week. Rebel radio broadcasting from Bunia today said that a French envoy, Gen Jeannou Lacaze has visited Lubumbashi for talks with ADFL. Also visiting Kabila in Lubumbashi today is a 30-strong delegation of foreign bankers to discuss investment opportunities. Representatives of both main US political parties were included in the group, reports AFP.

Reuters reports that the new rebel-appointed head of Zairean mining giant Gecamines, Mbaka Kawaya Swana, is seeking several hundred million dollars of foreign investment in the mining sector.

* The UN Joint Investigative Mission is still stuck in Kigali, awaiting ADFL approval for a human rights survey in eastern Zaire. ADFL officials in Lubumbashi have objected to the inclusion of Roberto Garreton, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Zaire. Rebel justice official Mwenze Kongolo told journalists on Tuesday that Garreton's last report on alleged human rights abuses in rebel-held areas was "shallow" and "irresponsible". The rebels also want to add a representative of the OAU to the team. The mission in a statement today said that ADFL leader Kabila had refused to allow the team to conduct the mission according to its mandate.

* Last night, Zairean TV announced an two-week extension of the state of emergency declared a month ago.

* Meetings in Kisangani between Rwandan officials and UNHCR's special envoy for the Great Lakes were set for yesterday and today. UNHCR hopes that the talks between Rwandan repatriation chief Ephraim Kabaija and UNHCR's Dessalegen Chefeke would help to improve relations after nearly a week of sour relations over the repatriation operation. Further talks took place between ADFL, UN officials and Dr Kabaija again today. Agreement has been reached in principle for an interagency team to travel south of Biaro as far as Kilometre 82 tomorrow, to regain contact with groups of refugees in the area. The total of Rwandans repatriated by air as of yesterday evening stands at 13,200, including 1,149 unaccompanied minors according to UNHCR in Kisangani. Today's flights are expected to bring over 2,000 more Rwandans home. Nine UN-chartered transport aircraft are involved in the air operations. About 35,000 Rwandans returned home by land during April, reports UNHCR Rwanda.

* MSF told IRIN today that about 8,000 Rwandans have crossed the Zaire-Congo border at Lukolela and Iranga and the medical NGO is attempting to send a mission from Brazzaville to investigate. MSF also reports that an MSF team of thre Zairean doctors confirms the presence of about 13,000 Rwandans at Wenji, near Mbandaka on the Zairean side of the same border. MSF reports that security is still precarious at Mbandaka, thanks to retreating FAZ troops.

* The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has suspended the joint trial of Obed Ruzindana and Clement Kayishema, after hearing the evidence of the 14th prosecution witness. The prosecution plans to call 50 witnesses in the trial which began on April 8. Another trial, due to begin on Monday, has been postponed for one week. The court has allowed the defence another week in which to contact its witnesses in the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu, former Bourgmestre of Taba, reports Fondation Hirondelle.

* Ten genocide suspects were shot dead on Wednesday night by a security guard while escaping from a lock-up in Maraba commune in Butare. The privately-owned Rwanda News Agency reported today that other inmates were injured and are being treated at the Butare university hospital, while the guard has been arrested.

* DHA's Financial Tracking service reports that the UN Consolidated Appeal for the Great Lakes (excluding Rwanda), has been informed of donations totalling $199.4 million for UN emergency programmes in the region during 1997, including about $64.5 million of carryover from last year, while donations reported by donors for non-UN projects (mainly the Red Cross Movement and international NGOs) total $131.6 million. Donations for the UN agencies represent 61% of the requirements of $324.5 million. Both UNHCR and WFP are over 70% funded, UNICEF is 21.5% funded, but several of the smaller UN agencies (FAO, UNHCHR, UNESCO, UNV and WHO) are yet to receive significant donations. DHA had received confirmed contributions of $149,790 as of May 7, but further contributions are already in the pipeline.

* Another instance of humanitarian access difficulties has emerged in the region: UNHCR Angola has reported that the Angolan government has not permitted UNHCR officials to visit areas where Rwandan refugees are reported to be arriving from Zaire. Rwandans, including armed elements, are believed to be at Dundo, in the northern Lunda Norte province. The UN peacekeeping mission, UNAVEM, has also been unable to visit the area, reports Reuters.

* Riak Machar, leader of the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM), one of six rebel factions which have recently signed a peace deal with Khartoum, is on a regional tour to try to influence the SPLA and its sympathizers to join the same peace accord. He was in Kampala yesterday, and after meeting President Yoweri Museveni, he intends to visit Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ugandan Foreign Minister, Eriya Kategaya told a press conference yesterday that the April 21 peace accord was "legally empty", but that Uganda would try to help Machar and John Garang of the SPLA to meet.

The state-owned Ugandan New Vision newspaper reported today that the Iranian embassy in Naiorbi denied allegations by an SPLA commander that Iranian "Mujahideens" were fighting with Sudanese government forces near Juba. Khartoum's Catholic archbishop claimed the Khartoum government was pursuing a calculated plan to destroy places of worship and prevent expression of the Christian faith difficult in a letter to the authorities today, reports AFP.

Nairobi, 9 May 1997, 14:50 gmt [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 17:50:29 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 168 for 9 May 1997 97.5.9 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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